Overcoming Your Fear Of Missing Out

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You’re always missing out. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but fear of missing out has become a thing.

Why is that?

The simple truth is that there’s always been more going on than you could ever even know about. There are more opportunities, options, adventures, conversations, trips, dreams, visions, jobs than you have time to pursue. This hasn’t changed.

What has changed is how much we know about what we’re not doing. Social media and connective technologies allow us to see so much that we’re missing out on. Twenty years ago you wouldn’t have jealous feelings about those friends who are on a road-trip or at a concert of your favorite band. You wouldn’t know about it until much later. But now, you see updates from people who are doing amazing things all the time. And it has the tendency to make what you’re doing feel less than amazing.

In the past, we didn’t know what we were missing out on.

Today, we know more than ever what everyone else is doing.

More accurately: we know what they want us to know they are doing.

It’s not fear of missing out itself that bothers me. What bothers me is what fear of missing out does to us:

1.Fear of missing out steals your joy
I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but I don’t know anyone who speaks honestly about their fear of missing out as a positive thing. Fear of missing out doesn’t feel good. It’s easy to obsess about and it can lead to all kinds of other feelings. Where do you go with those feelings? Anxiety? Depression? Jealousy?

2.Fear of missing out steals your attention.
Fear of missing out takes away your ability to give yourself fully to what you are a part of and the opportunities in front of you. The more you obsess over what others are doing that you’re not, the less invested and focused you can be on your work. It can steal the best of what you have to offer.

In other words:

Fear of missing out keeps you missing out.[Tweet that]

Your fear of missing out is counter-productive. Your fear of missing out is making you miss out. How ironic.

3.Fear of missing out keeps you from the beauty around you.
They don’t share the boring stuff. My mundane, every day life things pale in comparison to the curated best moments from my 1,000 closest social media friends— how could it not?

Your best work is in front of you and inside you. You must be present to bring it about.[Tweet that]

What to do about your fear of missing out:

1. Recognize when it happens.
Putting words to your experience is helpful. For example, instead of simply telling yourself that you’re “feeling anxious”, try to connect it to some of the experiences that made you feel that way. The words you use to describe something have power to shape your experience.

2. Find the source.
My bet is your fear of missing out is connected to how you use social media and technology. These are great tools to keep us connected, but they have a dark side that we need to be aware of. Pay attention to what is triggering it.

3. Know when you’re likely to be affected.
It’s likely that you have fear of missing out feelings at certain times. Maybe you’re feeling stuck on something and you check social media to give yourself a break. Before you know it, you’re knee deep in fear of missing out. There are other parts of your life that are contributing to the fear of missing out that you experience. It’s not just the great instagram photo or facebook updates that set it off. It’s more complex than just that. The more you can be attentive to how you’re feeling offline, the more you can understand how your online world is affecting you.

4. Accept that you’re always missing out
It’s one part being confident in who you are and the choices you make, and one part accepting that you only get to experience a sliver of all that is possible in life. You’ll always be missing out on something. There will always be more to do than you have the time, the capacity, and the resources for. Accept that you miss out. A lot. Choose not to do a lot of things so you can focus on the things that you do choose to invest yourself in.

5. Focus on the beauty, meaning, and possibility in front of you.
Your best work depends on your ability to invest more of who you are into what you do. Finding and doing work worth doing requires your energy, creativity, focus, and imagination. You can only dig deeper into your work if you’re not distracted by everyone else’s. You have something to say. We want to hear it. Resisting your fear of missing out might be what it takes to find it.

In the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s your experience with fear of missing out? What do you do about it? Click here to comment.

Dan Cumberland is on a mission to push you into the places meaning, life, & work intersect. He is the author of The Meaning Manifesto. Read more about him here, and connect with him on facebook and twitter.

There Are 2 Comments On This Post.

  1. Joan

    I think that you have a point. Knowledge of possibilities creates desire. At the same time, I think being able to observe without wanting the same thing as someone else is a good experience, it’s nice to feel genuinely happy for another. I find myself most jealous of things that involve community and creativity. I think it’s good to be aware and self reflect and try to hone my own vision. But when confronted with so much that I would like to be involved with, you’re right. I think of it as, like I was talking about, an opportunity to whittle it down to what I really want in life in terms of essence rather than specifics.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Joan. I do think it’s worth noting when there are certain things that keep coming back up for you. If it’s always about community and creativity, I wonder what it is that you’re longing for with your expression of community and creativity? Could your fear of missing out be a guide to help you create some really good things? 🙂

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